SCHENECTADY — Not even three weeks after announcing plans to renovate his Crane Street appliance store, John D. Marcella is trying to figure out if the building is salvageable after a fire broke out there Tuesday morning.
The fire was called in at the 810 Crane St. building at around 8 a.m. Tuesday. The initial cause is believed to be water seeping into a light fixture, Marcella said.
The century-old building serves as a clearance outlet and a warehouse for the larger headquarters of Marcella’s Appliance Center down the hill on Broadway, as well as a smaller Clifton Park retail location.
In late September, Marcella’s announced it would renovate the façade and other parts of the Crane Street building. The Schenectady County Metroplex Development Authority announced it would provide a $50,000 façade grant for the project, which it said would boost the ongoing city-county effort to revitalize the Crane Street corridor.
As a first step, Marcella said, he had the roof partly replaced over the last two weeks at a cost of more than $40,000.
The first employees arrived at the location around 7 a.m. Tuesday, he said. They smelled something odd inside but couldn’t track down its source.
The origin became very apparent an hour later, when flames erupted through the roof, Marcella said.
The workers escaped harm. The building did not. Firefighters got the blaze out in about an hour, officials said. One firefighter suffered minor injuries, officials said, but no other injuries were reported.
“What a mess,” Marcella sighed Tuesday afternoon. “I don’t believe it’s restoreable right now. … All the walls are shot and all the electric is shot.”
Beyond that, 150 new appliances were damaged.
The engineering and architectural plans for parts of the project were completed before the fire, Marcella said.
It’s too soon to decide whether to salvage the structure or start new but he does want to move forward with it, however possible.
“Whatever needs to be done, we’re going to do,” he said. The Broadway showroom remains open for business.
The family-owned retailer has been operating since 1957 and has overcome other setbacks — none greater perhaps than an employee embezzling $466,000 from 2011 to 2014 — to remain one of the top 70 appliance retailers in the nation, Marcella said.
“We’re going to figure it out. We’re not going to throw in the towel,” he said.